The celebrity wedding trend setting an unattainable ideal

There's only one thing I like more than gawking at photos of people's weddings. And that's gawking at photos of wedding dresses.

I'm no Muriel Heslop but I have had a fascination with wedding gowns ever since I was a young girl attending school near one of Melbourne's most famous bridal districts.

Last weekend, I oohed and aahed as I ogled the photos of TV presenter Lauren Phillips' wedding to Lachie Spark.

Details from a princess wedding @lfizzlphillips @lachspark #Meetthepharks

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For a celebrity wedding, it had it all: a postcard-perfect location, star-studded guest list and two wedding dresses.

During the ceremony, Phillips wore a full-skirted, strapless beaded gown by designer Con Ilio. She then changed for the reception into a slinkier, equally extravagant, dress, by the same designer, for the reception.

Following on the heels of Serena Williams' double-dress nuptials in November to Alexis Ohanian - in Alexander McQueen and Versace - the Duchess of Cambridge (two dresses) Chrissy Teigen (three Vera Wangs) and fashion influencer Giovanna Battaglia's (four gowns), the multiple-dress wedding has been gathering pace.


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And while it's fine for celebrities with lots of money - although some could be getting their dresses for free in exchange for the publicity for the designer - what precedent does it set for "ordinary brides"?

Of course, the wearing of multiple wedding outfits isn't new. Since the early 20th century, brides have been changing into "going away" outfits at the end of their reception, often because they were headed straight on honeymoon and didn't need the excess baggage.

But more frequently the 11pm outfit change has become the 6pm outfit change, and we're all the poorer for it.

Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge, changed into a different dress for her wedding reception to Prince William in 2011.

Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge, changed into a different dress for her wedding reception to Prince William in 2011. Photo: AP

I can sympathise with brides who want their princess fantasy and be able to drop it low on the dance floor - sometimes the one dress can't meet both needs. But I love the city and the beach and can only afford one house, so guess what? I prioritised.

And still, more brides are saying yes to the dresses, plural. They want their fruit cake and they want to eat it, too.

When I got married in 2008 (I have since divorced), it never occurred to me that I would have a reception dress; my mother generously gave me money for my one, perfect dress, and that was it.

Congratulations to the beautiful @lfizzlphillips #meetthepharks

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Maybe the rules are different for celebrities, who often have more funds and feel there's more pressure to deliver the perfect story for social media and a magazine spread.

Still, I can't help feeling that women such as Phillips and Williams, and even lesser known brides, are setting a new "normal" that for most brides is out of reach.

Finances notwithstanding, this recent expectation that brides will stun their guests with another "reveal", even before entree is served, only adds to the myriad pressures already bearing down on many brides.

There's also the pressure of factoring in outfit changes into what is already a hectic day. And often that means pulling someone else away from the festivities to help a bride in and out of the dresses.

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One clever bride I know opted for a compromise: the convertible dress, which makes more sense to me than starting from scratch with a second dress. And it's more cost effective.

Finding a wedding dress should be a memorable experience for both bride and her inner circle. To me, wearing two dresses somehow takes away from the euphoria of finding "the one". And if you love your dress - the one in which you say "I do" - so much, why on heaven's earth would you want to take it off?

This story The celebrity wedding trend setting an unattainable ideal first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.